On August 25, 1919, British Airways’ forerunner, Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T), launched the world’s first daily international scheduled air service between London and Paris. In 1924, Britain’s four main fledgling airlines, which had by then evolved into Instone, Handley Page, Daimler Airways (a successor to AT&T), and British Air Marine Navigation Company Limited merged to form Imperial Airways Limited, which served 5 destinations.
Meanwhile, a number of smaller UK air transport companies had started operations and by 1935 they merged to form the original privately-owned British Airways Limited, which became Imperial Airways’ principal UK competitor on European routes. Both companies were eventually nationalized into British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). Continental European and domestic flights were flown by a new airline, British European Airways (BEA) from 1946. BOAC expanded and introduced services to New York in 1946, Japan in 1948, Chicago in 1954 and the United States west coast in 1957. By 1974, the British carriers came together to form British Airways, which privatized in 1987.
British Airways considers 1919 as its birth date. Thus, to celebrate its centenary, the airline decided to paint some planes in retro liveries. The first plane to get repainted is a 747 registered G-BYGC, which will be painted in the iconic BOAC livery. The aircraft will leave the paint shop in Dublin and arrive at Heathrow on February 18th and enter into service the following day. This coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first Boeing 747 flight only a few days earlier.
The BOAC livery will remain on the Boeing 747 until it retires in 2023. By then, British Airways will have retired most of its 747 fleet and replaced them with new long-haul aircraft including the 18 A350s and 12 Boeing 787 Dreamliners to be delivered in the next four years. The planes feature new cabins as well as more efficient, environmentally friendly performance than the 747. All new aircraft entering the fleet, including the A350, will receive today’s Chatham Dockyard livery.
Featured image by British Airways